Based on the autobiographical graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi, 'Persepolis' is a beautifully realised reconstruction of a young girl's coming of age set against the backdrop of pre and post-revolutionary Iran.

The original French adaptation of Satrapi's novel was awarded the Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, and was nominated for the animated feature Oscar this year.

The English-language version sees Sean Penn voicing Marjane's caring father, Gena Rowlands as her wise grandmother, Iggy Pop playing her radical uncle, and Chiara Mastroianni reprising her role as Marjane.

Shot in an arresting visual style taken from the graphic novels, the story is constructed using the simplest of means - flat, monochrome drawings. They not only manage to be rich in imagination, but unfold the story with great elegance, clarity and beauty. 

We first meet Marjane as a punk-loving, hyper-inquisitive child. She was brought up in a house of left-wing intellectuals, all the while steered by her feminist, no-nonsense grandmother, who provided much of the moral steerage during her formative years.

Her family first suffer under the Shah, and then under the even more restrictive Islamic fundamentalist regime. She is an intelligent, outspoken schoolgirl, leading her protective parents to shuttle her to Vienna to study to escape the tyranny.

Here she blossoms into a young woman, illustrated by a hilariously animated puberty scene. But she only feels further displacement in the bourgeois, nihilist group she finds herself a part of and heads for home.

Marjane falls into a deep depression for a time, but manages to drag herself out of her gloom, in a scene humorously soundtracked by Survivor's ' The Eye of the Tiger', and goes back to college. She sets herself apart, once more taking a brave feminist stand by making a ridicule of the strict limitations put on women in college. However, her return to Tehran is not to last, and she leaves for Paris.

The film is bolstered by an underlying sense of mischievousness, expressed through moments of humour that come from poking fun at the ridiculousness of the regime in Iran. We see a woman fearfully squashing grapes in the bath with her feet to make wine illegally, and a group of students studying anatomy in college - with a chadored woman as their model.

'Persepolis' paints the story of one girl's struggle in a world gone haywire with warmth and a fierce sense of independence. Complemented by animation that is rich with inventiveness, it is a celebration of individuality, rebelliousness and the resilience of human spirit.

Sarah McIntyre